PORTLAND -- Veterans who are new to the Veterans Affairs system and trying to see their doctor for the first time in Portland face some of the longest wait times in the country.
USA Today first uncovered the numbers and late Friday the VA in Portland confirmed them. The data covers the time period from October 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014.
Despite a goal of getting a vet to their doctor within 14 days, most veterans wait 56 days or more. Only 18 percent see their doctor for the first time in 14 days.
A spokesman said it’s a situation most veterans have already experienced.
“I don’t think, quite honestly, they're going to surprise a lot of veterans that we give care to. Because we have had challenges and we know it," said Portland VA spokesman Dan Herrigstad.
He said the Portland system encompasses 12 campuses and that the VA is working hard to add more doctors and buildings.
“You are absolutely right, we're down where we do not want to be and we're not going to be there very long. We have great plans to improve this and I know it’s going to be remarkably different if you come back in just six to eight months," Herrigstad said.